Companies always strive to uncover strategies that lead to better decision-making. As a result, they constantly seek professionals who can operate technologies and applications for data collection, evaluation, and integration of business information. Management analysts, financial analysts, operations research analysts, or computer systems analysts make up some of the positions such organizations demand.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 14% job growth for management analysts through 2026, which is much faster than average. Similarly, BLS data indicates a 27% increase in job growth through 2026 for operations research analysts. Students who earn a business intelligence master’s degree online join a growing field that values their knowledge and skills. In fact, the latest global report released by PwC and the Business Higher Education Forum [PDF] projects 2.72 million job opportunities for data science and analytics professionals by 2020.
Knowledgeable business intelligence professionals can boost an organization’s ability to synthesize consumer trends, generate a return on investments, reduce and manage risk, gain a competitive advantage, and increase efficiency. While entry-level positions accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree, professionals with experience and an advanced degree gain a competitive advantage and qualify for higher salaries and leadership opportunities.
Online Master’s in Business Intelligence Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
The Best Online Master’s in Business Intelligence Programs
1. Boston University
BU offers a fully online MS in applied business analytics, with no on-campus requirements. The university understands each student has a unique learning style and customizes courses for individuals. Online students have access to faculty and student support administrators, who monitor group interaction and each student’s needs and performance.
BU’s online MS in business analytics provides business knowledge and analytical skills. Coursework covers topics such as enterprise risk management, data mining for business analytics, and qualitative decision-making. Graduates pursue positions analyzing data-driven business processes in roles such as management analyst, statistician, and operations research analyst.
Most students complete the 40-credit program in 18 to 24 months. BU accepts approved transfer credits, and students with a graduate certificate in applied business analytics may waive the program’s four specialization courses. Applicants must submit a graduate application, three letters of recommendation, a self-evaluation, a current resume, and official transcripts.
Boston University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
2. Brandeis University
Brandeis offers an online MS in strategic analytics featuring small class sizes and instructors who are trained in online teaching. With an average class size of 12 students, online learners have the opportunity to form close relationships with instructors, who are active professionals in the field. Students participate in virtual meetings, and instructors are available for review sessions, office hours, and group activities in real time.
BU’s business analytics online master’s degree prepares students to translate analysis into effective decision-making for organizations. Core courses include business intelligence, analytics, and strategic decision-making. BU’s problem-based learning approach teaches students to collect and analyze data, and electives help students develop specific skill sets.
Students complete the 30-credit program in 10-week sessions, and most students earn the degree in about 18 months. However, students may take up to five years to complete the program. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, a statement of goals, and a letter of recommendation.
Brandeis University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
3. Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
Founded in New York in 1870, SU offers more than 200 majors and 100 minors. The university’s quarter of a million alumni are located in 160 countries. Along with Syracuse, SU has campuses in New York City, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles, and abroad. The university offers a number of fully online degrees, including an MS in business analytics.
SU students earning their business analytics master’s online develop an understanding of analytics through research, data visualization, and analysis. Students customize the degree through a variety of elective options. To facilitate effective communication between students and instructors, SU uses a backward design approach, which involves setting goals before determining the most effective instructional methods. The faculty comprises experts in the field who are trained in online teaching. Students participate in weekly interactive assignments.
Students complete two courses per 12-week term and graduate in as few as 18 months. Applicants must submit an application and an application fee, which is less if submitted by the priority deadline. Applicants must also submit two personal essays, two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores. Candidates should be prepared to complete a personal interview with a member of the admissions committee.
Syracuse University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. Indiana University - Bloomington
Founded in 1820, IU offers an online MS in business analytics that emphasizes innovation and collaboration. The program is designed for students who hold an MBA or a bachelor’s degree in areas such as business, economics, or statistics. Graduates pursue careers as brand analytics managers, e-commerce project managers, and web metrics analysts.
Students complete the 30 required credit hours in as few as 15 months. Coursework prepares students to make accurate business decisions based on analytic modeling, to employ strategic thinking in management situations, and to uncover statistical information from datasets. Most classes last 16 weeks, but some classes are available in formats lasting 6, 8, or 12 weeks. Students have 24/7 access to online course materials.
IU Online offers a dual master’s degree combining an MBA and master’s in business analytics.
Applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a 500-word personal statement, and a current resume. Applicants should expect to participate in a 30-minute phone interview with a member of the admissions team.
Indiana University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Creighton University
Creighton offers an online MS in business intelligence and analytics that is rooted in hands-on, real-world experience. Creighton’s small class sizes allow instructors to provide individual attention for each student. Graduates pursue careers as financial analysts, planners, and advisors.
Creighton’s online master’s in business intelligence requires core major coursework and classes designed to provide practical skills and knowledge, such as ethics classes. Online students have access to a digital library, an online writing center, technical assistance, and academic advising. Online students participate in real-time web conferences with professors and stream audio-visual materials. While most courses are asynchronous and require no scheduled log-in times, they are not self-paced; students meet due dates for weekly assignments.
Most full-time students complete the 33-credit program in two years. Applicants must submit a graduate admission application, an application fee, proof of undergraduate degree, two letters of recommendation, a 500-word personal statement, official transcripts, and GMAT scores.
Creighton University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Arizona State University - ASU Online
ASU, a public metropolitan university, consistently ranks among the most innovative schools in the country. ASU’s offers hands-on, dynamic online programs, including an online MS in business analytics. Students learn how to extract value from data and lead analyses. Graduates pursue positions such as business intelligence analyst, marketing manager, and chief executive across markets and industries.
ASU’s online program follows the same curriculum as its on-campus program, and courses are taught by the same instructors. Students complete a single five-week course at a time and have access to a career services team that addresses the needs of working professionals. Coursework covers topics such as data mining and decision modeling, and students complete a three-credit culminating experience. Most students complete the 30-credit program in 16 months.
Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and must submit official transcripts, GMAT or GRE test scores, a letter of recommendation, a current resume, and responses to short-answer questions.
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7. Saint Joseph’s University
SJU, a Jesuit university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was one of the first schools to offer an online STEM degree; students in the MS in business intelligence and analytics program work with real data and case studies to cultivate skills applicable to positions in diverse industries. Core courses include business analytics and special topics in business intelligence. The program offers three concentrations: general track, data analysis, and programming languages. Graduates receive a business intelligence certificate endorsed by Statistical Analysis System, Inc.
SJU’s program consists of two split semesters, and students take a single eight-week course at a time. Most students complete the 30 required credits in two years. Every SJU professor is an expert in their field. Online students have access to a personal student services coordinator and 24/7 technical support.
Applicants must submit a graduate application, an application fee, two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a letter of intent, and GRE or GMAT scores.
Saint Joseph’s University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
8. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
CU Denver/Anschutz employs diverse teaching methods and values discovery, innovation, and diversity. The university offers an online MS in information systems with a concentration in business intelligence. Students explore operational data and analytical tools and learn to process data, handle dashboards and scorecards, maintain customer relationships, and manage employee performance.
Online classrooms are structured in the same way as on-campus classrooms. Students participate in group activities and class discussions, and professors administer exams and weekly assignments. Students have access to MicroStrategy, Inc., a worldwide provider of business intelligence software. The curriculum covers topics such as IT governance, data warehousing, and business intelligence in healthcare. Students earning CU Denver’s online master’s in business intelligence can also complete a geographic information systems certificate, which teaches students to map representations that can be isolated in geo-databases.
Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in any field and must submit official transcripts and GMAT scores. While not required, relevant work experience strengthens the application.
The University of Colorado/Anschutz Medical Campus is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Saint Mary’s University is a Lasallian Catholic school established in 1912. The university serves 4,600 graduate students and has some of the largest graduate programs in Minnesota. Saint Mary’s University offers an online master’s of science in business intelligence and data analytics. Students earning the business analytics master’s degree online study topics such as analytics programming, statistical modeling, and data-driven decision-making. Most full-time students complete the 36 required credits in one year.
Saint Mary’s University provides user-friendly online learning environments, and coursework is delivered asynchronously so students can complete program requirements at their convenience. Students have 24/7 access to content-sharing tools and all course materials, including syllabi, articles, assignments, tests, quizzes, and discussion questions. Online students interact with classmates and faculty through virtual chats and emails.
Applicants must have a 2.75 GPA and must submit official transcripts, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Bellevue University
Founded in 1966, Bellevue is a nonprofit university located on a 46-acre main campus in Nebraska. The university serves nearly 9,000 students per year and has campuses in four states. Bellevue offers several entirely online programs, including an MS in business analytics.
Students earning the MS in business analytics online gain business knowledge and technical skills. Graduates become leaders who influence business decision-making and work in areas such as business administration, management information systems, and data mining. The program requires 36 credit hours and is ideal for individuals pursuing careers in business analytics and for current professionals who want to advance their careers.
Bellevue accepts transfer credits and provides an online tool to help prospective students determine how many of their previous credits Bellevue will approve. Applicants must have a 2.5 undergraduate GPA or a 3.0 graduate GPA and must submit official transcripts and a letter of recommendation. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
What Is a Master’s in Business Intelligence Degree?
The ability to read and analyze business data remains a specialized skill, and those proficient in it add value to the business world. Students who complete a master’s in business analytics online gain skills and knowledge needed to excel in business intelligence. Courses include statistical methods, primary data collection, management decision methods, data mining and reporting, business intelligence analytics, data visualization and creative reporting, and business intelligence case studies. Programs typically include capstone projects in which students showcase their collective learning.
Business intelligence and business analytics degree programs can be completed online in as little as one year. Concentrations and minors exist in business intelligence, data analytics, and data management. Programs focus heavily on technology and the ways it can be used in research and analytics. Detailed courses provide students with knowledge to begin a full-time position as a business intelligence analyst, a business intelligence project manager, or analytics within data services. Each school differs in class format, thesis requirements, and electives.
Online Master’s in Business Intelligence Programs
Many students exploring master’s programs work full time, which makes on-campus attendance a challenge. Online campuses accommodate nontraditional learners by offering optimal flexibility through multiple program structures. For instance, some programs provide all coursework online with no in-person requirements; some schools may require a set number of in-person meetings.
Schools with brick-and-mortar locations may administer traditional semester structures for both distance and on-campus learning, allowing students to choose the format that best meets their needs. No matter the structure, students receive a syllabus, which outlines deadline dates and exams.
Online course structures also utilize multiple formats, which include synchronous and asynchronous learning. Synchronous courses mimic an on-campus environment through an online learning management system that allows live video sessions. Students can speak through microphones or ask questions through a live chat. Asynchronous courses do not require set meetings, and students simply submit assignments before deadlines. Students still engage with classmates and professors through online discussion boards, which require an initial post and then a follow-up response by a particular date.
Students may also engage in group work through online chat rooms or phone conferences. The best distance learners possess excellent time-management skills and intrinsic motivation.
The Advantages of a Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence
Many jobs in business intelligence use the same title even as professionals gain promotions. For instance, a candidate with a bachelor’s degree and limited experience may qualify for junior business analyst roles, while applicants with an online master’s business intelligence and around five years of experience may qualify for senior business analyst roles.
Professionals interested in top-level positions should continue to acquire field experience. However, professionals may also consider earning additional certificates or a doctorate, which could lead to roles as head business analysts, IT partners, IT strategic consultants, or enterprise architects.
Despite the job title, candidates with advanced degrees and experience earn more than individuals who lack these two key factors. The table below and the following sections contain additional details regarding earning potential and job titles.
What Can You Do with a Master’s Degree in Business Intelligence?
An online master’s in business intelligence qualifies graduates to choose from a variety of career options, including analyst, project manager, developer, manager, administrator, and consultant. Business intelligence specialists work primarily in the finance industry, but other business-related industries demand them as well.
- Data Engineer:
- Professionals collect data and develop innovative methods for analyzing and using the information. Duties include designing data set processes, improving predictive capabilities, and storing data. Most data engineers work with computers in teams. Employers value candidates with a Ph.D. or a master’s degree with relevant work experience.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $88,000
- Mid-Career: $110,000
- Experienced: $123,000
- Late Career: $155,000
- Data Architect:
- Data architects design and maintain data through relational databases. As businesses rely on these professionals to ensure accessibility and accuracy of organizational data, pertinent skills include understanding computer languages and effective communication. Many professionals work for private or educational organizations who prefer a master’s degree and professional experience.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $85,000
- Mid-Career: $106,000
- Experienced: $126,000
- Late Career: $133,000
- Business Intelligence Analyst:
- These professionals improve management operations and collaboration between departments. This role requires excellent managerial and communication skills. Business intelligence analysts often work with department managers and attend chair meetings to explain organizational data to C-suite executives. Depending on the size of the organization, professionals may also lead training seminars.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $63,000
- Mid-Career: $78,000
- Experienced: $86,000
- Late Career: $89,000
- Business Intelligence Manager:
- Business intelligence managers provide data solutions that influence business strategies within an organization. Professionals use statistical methodologies to solve issues as they improve efficiency and profitability. Other responsibilities include developing complex reports that help organizations make effective decisions. Ideal candidates possess a master’s degree with relevant work experience.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $89,000
- Mid-Career: $111,000
- Experienced: $119,000
- Late Career: $118,000
- Business Intelligence Director:
- Business intelligence directors lead design initiatives and data warehouse activities in an organization. These directors instruct other business intelligence professionals, which requires excellent communication and leadership skills. At times, directors may need to mentor or train junior staff. Directors also collaborate with both internal and external IT stakeholders to reach organizational goals.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $105,000
- Mid-Career: $126,000
- Experienced: $146,000
- Late Career: $154,000
Choosing an Online Business Intelligence Graduate Degree Program
As the demand for distance learning increases, schools continue to create and improve their online programs. Students may want to begin their search by defining what their ideal business intelligence master’s degree online offers. For instance, some schools may offer niche business intelligence concentration areas while more developed business intelligence programs may simply offer more in-depth core coursework.
Similarly, students may want to consider in-state options with lower tuition rates, which provide a greater return on investment. Furthermore, in-state programs allow students considering hybrid formats to access on-campus course options.
- Program Cost:
- An online master’s in business intelligence can vary in cost. Many schools offer financial assistance; however, students generally must pay some fees and/or accept loans to cover remaining balances. Furthermore, students should consider the return on their investment since loan repayment usually begins months after graduation.
- Transfer Policies:
- Online schools target nontraditional students striving to earn their degree. Therefore, many programs accept a certain number of transfer credits from accredited schools. Students should check the policies. Also, many schools maintain partnerships, which makes the credit transfer process easy for students. Ultimately, students should try to avoid losing credits.
- School Size and Type:
- Similar to on-campus programs, online class sizes vary. Students should consider the class environment that suits their learning needs. For instance, large classes provide more opportunities for networking and group work, while smaller class sizes offer hands-on engagement and direct instruction. Students may find that private, nonprofit, and public school structures influence educational environments as well.
- Program Length:
- Many students want to earn their degree as quickly as possible, while others value part-time enrollment options. Therefore, students should identify the structure meets their needs. For instance, some schools utilize traditional 16-week semester schedules, while others offer year-round coursework with eight-week semester, which can shorten program lengths.
- On-Campus Requirements:
- Many online master’s in business intelligence programs do not require in-person attendance. Some hybrid programs require a set number of in-person appearances. Other face-to-face components could include exams at testing centers or field experiences.
- Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements:
- Brick-and-mortar schools that rely on traditional or hybrid programming may require students to complete their culminating project, research, or thesis on campus. Similarly, at the master’s degree level, many students complete fellowships that include hands-on requirements. Fellowships provide financial incentives and experience, and they may lead to employment.
Accreditation for Online Business Intelligence Master’s Degrees
Online master’s in business intelligence program options continue to expand as demand increases. However, students should only consider programs that hold accreditation. Accrediting agencies establish minimum standards for curriculum, which validates students’ education in the eyes of the government, other schools, and employers.
Colleges and universities can earn a regional or national accreditation. While national accreditations cover more ground, regional accrediting agencies retain the highest recognition, as they specialize in a particular geographic location. Students should review the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website to learn about specific regional accrediting agencies. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Education offers information about national accrediting agencies.
Students should also look for programmatic accreditations. CHEA also provides a list of approved programmatic accreditations on its website. Students may want to consider accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master in Business Intelligence Degree Program?
An average business intelligence master’s degree online requires 30–36 credit hours. Students who attend full time typically graduate within two years. Students should note that certain factors may either shorten or extend the length of an average program. For instance, working students may enroll part time, which can double the listed length of their program. Also, online programs at schools with brick-and-mortar locations may use traditional semester structures to mirror their on-campus courses instead of year-round courses.
In some cases, students can take additional credits each semester or courses during the summer. Student who rely on financial aid should consider funding options since aid may not cover summer courses.
However, some distance learning schools operating on eight-week semesters instead of traditional semesters and continue classes through the summer. These programs often utilize cohort models, to emphasize interaction and engagement. Students take each class together for the entire program, which means students cannot take additional courses to graduate faster.
Courses in an Online Master’s in Business Intelligence Program
- Data Mining and Visualization
- This course examines techniques and algorithms uses to develop effective visualizations. Topics include data transformations, exploratory querying, statistical graphics, time series analysis, and exploratory spatial data analysis. By the end of this course, students should understand and use tools such as Python and Jupyter notebooks, and be able to apply design principles.
- Business Analytics
- Business analytics explores ways professionals can use data to make more informed decisions. Students use case studies to practice identifying and evaluating potential opportunities in organizations. Business analytics also examines analytic methods and the use of optimization in the presence of multiple alternatives. This course emphasizes analytical skills.
- Data-Driven Decision-Making
- In this course, students learn about the role of quantitative data in organizational, entrepreneurial, and managerial decision-making. As an interdisciplinary course, students must apply quantitative tools from statistics, finance, and economics. This course emphasizes the interpretation and translation of data into valuable intel used to initiate change in an organization.
- Data Science and Predictive Analytics
- Data science and predictive analytics strives to develop computational, practical, and inferential thinking abilities for solving core data challenges. Pertinent concepts include dynamic visualization, data management, statistical computing, and processing. By the end of this course, students should possess an understanding of computational concepts in big science data, inferential thinking skills, and raw datasets.
- Quantitative and Qualitative Decision-Making
- Through quantitative and qualitative decision-making techniques, students explore ways to improve issues organizations experience today. Students must draw upon fundamental methodologies of problem-solving, data collection, data analysis, evaluation, prediction, and profitability distribution. Essential topics include statistical data analysis, forecasting techniques, optimization models, and decision theory.
Business Intelligence Professional Associations
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers:
- As one of the most recognized technical organizations, the IEEE focuses on advances in privacy and security. The IEEE offers membership for students and professionals. Benefits include a vast network, mentorship opportunities, innovative projects, a digital library, career webinars, and continuing education coursework.
- Association for Information Science and Technology:
- ASIS&T accounts for the gap between information science practice and research. For over 80 years, ASIS&T has uncovered innovative theories, technologies, and techniques to improve information access in the field. Members gain access to continuing education coursework, scholarships, networking opportunities, and leadership training.
- CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals:
- AITP advocates for professionals in the technology field and strives to be its leading go-to resource. Members gain access to a global network, mentorship, career support, chapter events, and skill training. AITP also provides resume workshops and job assistance. Through AITP communities, members can also help underrepresented populations get into the technology industry.
- International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology:
- IASSIST strives to promote excellent data service delivery and advance the social science infrastructure. IASSIST includes members working in government, the private sector, the nonprofit sector, and in academia. By joining IASSIST, members gain access to action groups, digital resources, quarterly reports, and annual conferences.
- Research Data Alliance:
- RDA emerged as a community initiative as a result of global organizations including the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Its mission is to build a stronger technical and social infrastructure, which allows reuse and sharing of data. Members gain access to global discussion boards, a vast network, workshops, scientific meetings, and professional development.
The 10 Best Online Master’s in Business Intelligence Programs for 2018
Syracuse, New York
Saint Joseph’s University
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
Arizona State University - ASU Online
Indiana University - Bloomington
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota